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remembering betty ford. the former first lady who inspired a generation with her candor and her personal struggles. the new secretary of defense in afghanistan with a striking new assessment of al qaeda. final edition for a tabloid caught up in its own scandal. is there more to come? and royal treatment. will and kate bring their charming style to the u.s. carrying on a long family tradition. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. betty ford, a former dancer,
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stay-at-home mom of four, and wife of a michigan congressman, never could have imaged the strange circumstances that in 1974 would land her and her husband, gerald ford, into the white house, but for a role she was unprepared for, first lady of the united states, she made a lot of it and changed thousands if not millions of lives in the process. betty ford died last night in california at the age of 93. she was known for speaking her mind, even when it didn't jive with her husband's political agenda, but she is best remembered for putting a public face to some awfully personal struggles and inspiring americans, particularly women, in ways no other first lady had. at the ford museum in grand rapids, michigan, her childhood home, betty ford was remembered today as a beloved first lady and an outspoken and inspiring figure to millions of women. >> i liked her openness, her vulnerability, and her honesty.
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>> reporter: recalling her public battles with breast cancer and alcohol, former president george w. bush said that because of her leadership, many lives were saved. elizabeth ann ford who had quietly raised four children never expected to end up in the white house. culminating with the resignation and elevated gerald ford to the 48th president of the united states. >> i am indebted to no man and only to one woman. my dear wife. >> reporter: it proved to be a pivotal platform for mrs. ford, who was dubbed by the press america's fighting first lady, advocating for a woman on the supreme court and abortion rights. >> you are a american. >> and touting the equal rights amendment. >> you have come a long, long way. >> reporter: her uninhibited good nature and her professional
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dance background brought us some remarkable moments that change the way we view first ladies, but to many her free spirit was represented by her voice, never shying away from her views. >> i do not believe that being first lady should prevent me from expressing my ideas. >> reporter: or sharing her most vulnerable moments. when she was diagnosed with breast cancer only weeks after becoming first lady, she spoke openly about her treatment, and years after leaving the white house she acknowledged and sought help for addictions to medication and alcohol, a dramatic revelation that brought it into the national stage in a way never seen before. >> sometimes these things turn out to be positive instead of a negative. >> reporter: for a younger generation of americans her name would be synonymous with treating and recovering from addiction. it would be the call of her life with a co-founding of the betty
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ford clinic in 1982, a legacy that will insure this remarkable first lady will continue to save lives. >> gerald and betty ford were married for 58 years until his death in december 2006. it is hard to imagine that back in 1974 breast cancer was a topic not heard much on the "nbc nightly news" or for that matter openly discussed. tonight nbc's ann thompson has more on how betty ford helped change that and ignited some important conversations in american living rooms. >> reporter: betty ford leaves a legacy of candor. >> i think it's time that the women step up and take their place. >> reporter: and change she inspired just by being honest. >> i think that's what we're here on this earth for, to help others. and if you can, you ought to do it. >> reporter: in this era of oversharing, it's hard to believe few women ever publicly acknowledged having breast cancer until betty ford did. >> betty ford underwent surgery
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for breast cancer on saturday. >> reporter: she had a radical mastectomy and chemotherapy. all while under the media magnifying glass of the white house. >> she made the fact that you can have breast cancer not a moment of shame, but a reason to see your physician, a reason to talk about it, and i think she really was the first person who kicked breast cancer awareness forward. >> reporter: and american women responded, lining up for mammograms. even fewer people spoke about the addictive mix of pain pills and alcohol until betty ford did. >> it was the same as with breast cancer. if the first lady can have breast cancer, maybe i could, and the same thing with the disease alcoholism and addiction. >> reporter: but perhaps most surprising is that betty ann bloomer ford, stay at home mother of four from conservative grand rapids, michigan, was an unexpected feminist.
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>> why should my husband's job or yours prevent us from being ourselves? >> she broke the emage of what a homemaker was really, but she also, just remember, she went to the streets too. i mean, she marched and rallied side-by-side with us. >> reporter: on nightly's fews back page many remember betty ford as honest, open, and real. tonight her name is honored on buildings and in history books, but most importantly, in the hearts of americans. ann thompson, nbc "nbc nightly news", new york. turning overseas, nato officials say an american soldier and a civilian were killed in afghanistan today by an afghan guard following an argument. the deaths came as the new u.s. defense secretary began his first visit to afghanistan where he offered a new assessment of al qaeda. nbc's pentagon correspondent jim
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miklacieski is traveling with him. >> reporter: it was on the flight over when he dropped the bombshell on al qaeda. >> we're within reach of strategically defeating al qaeda. >> reporter: panetta said the killing of osama bin laden by u.s. commandos two months ago and in an increasingly intense campaign of predator air strikes aimed at top terrorist leaders has staggered al qaeda. >> i think we had undermined their ability to conduct 9/11-type attacks. i think we had them on the run. >> reporter: in kabul general david petraeus agreed. >> al qaeda's senior leadership is less capable of threatening. >> reporter: intelligence indicates al qaeda's new leader is holed up in the tribal regions of western pakistan. he also revealed that up to 20 top al qaeda leaders from
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pakistan, yemen, and somalia were identified from intelligence found in bin laden's compound and are now on america's target list. topping that list, american-born cleric anwar, leader of al qaeda in yemen, considered the greatest terrorist threat to the united states. the so-called christmas day bomber was trained and equipped by al qaeda in yemen. panetta confirmed today that the cia has joined the u.s. military in launching air strikes aimed at taking on the leadership of al qaeda in yemen and warned the u.s. must rere-main relentless in pursuit of al qaeda. zoob i think now is the moment, now is the moment, following what happened with bin laden to put maximum pressure on them because i do believe that if we continue this effort that we can really cripple al qaeda. >> reporter: despite the progress, panetta warns that al
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qaeda still remains a serious threat, and even after his success at the cia in bringing down bin laden, panetta says that al qaeda itself will still be a top priority of his in his new job at the pentagon. lester. >> jim miklaszewski in kabul tonight. south sudan became the world's newest country today, gaining independence from sudan after five decades of struggle. tens of thousands celebrated the occasion, while south sudan is rich in oil, it is under developed and still will rely on pipelines controlled by sudan. president obama said both countries will be more secure and prosperous if they move peacefully beyond their differences. tomorrow at the white house it's this country's budget woes that will be front and center as the president has a rare sunday sit-down with both democrats and republicans. nbc's mike is at the white house tonight. >> reporter: good evening. a source close to those negotiations says the chance for
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a so-called grand bargain on reducing this nation's national debt are now waning. on the table, a package worth some $4.5 trillion in savings over ten years. it would dramatically overhaul the tax code, make it simpler and flatter. it would reduce taxes all the way around, all up and down the income ladder. many tax loopholes, breaks, and subsidies for corporations and individuals would go away, and social security and medicare are not immune under this proposal. they would see changes as well. cost of living adjustments could be reduced for the elderly. also being discussed is gradually raising the retirement age from 65 to 67 for medicare beneficiaries. the prospects are not good. chief party conservatives in the house are against any kind of tax raises what soar. democrats are equally adamant in their opposition to any changes to social security and medicare. lester. >> all right, mike. thanks. and a program note, more on the budget tomorrow on "meet the press." treasury secretary tim geithner will be among david gregory's guests. in california where celebrities routine, this may go
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down as a celebrity sighting of the year. we're talking about william and kate who were on the second day of their california visit. nbc's kate snow is following the royal couple, where else, at a polo match tonight. kate, good evening. >> reporter: of course. good evening, lester. to use the polo term for you, we are in between chuckers for you. that's like a period in polo. this whole trip actually came about over a year ago when prince william was invited to play polo here. it is just one stop on a jam packed tour. the early morning fog never quite lifted. the duke and duchess helicoptering in from los angeles, breezing down the red carpet without a word. guests paid up to $4,000 to attend the v.i.p. luncheon. >> my father, the prince of wales, and my brother harry were as green as that grass outside when i told them i would be here today. >> reporter: captain of the u.s. polo team is playing against
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prince william's team royal salute. >> it's a great feeling. it's fun. you know, he is having fun. we're all smiling. we're, you know, laughing, joking. just trying to have a good time. >> there's no elbows. there's no -- >> there might be elbow or two coming out. >> catharine and i have had a busy couple of days, so the prospect of being able to let go this afternoon is a great one for me. >> reporter: she's seen but not heard, today presenting the silver tiffany trophy, last night arriving in los angeles, given a red, white, and blue bouquet. >> diana would be so proud. she's gorgeous. >> reporter: fashion watchers are obsessed with all the outfits. from a light gray sheath at the beverly hilton to the green dress at the british console general's house. it looked like this could be the black tie dress, the glitziest event of the weekend. the couple wanted to see more than just hollywood.
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this is skid row, about 50 blocks in inner city los angeles where an estimated 4,000 homeless people live. it's known as the nation's homeless capital. william and kate will drive right through here on sunday on their way to inner city art, an oasis that offers kids from the neighborhood art classes and a chance to shine. dancers have spenlt the past couple of weeks at grueling six-hour rehearsals getting ready to perform for the royal couple. what do you hope they walk away with? >> hope. hope and inspiration. to feel and know that the arts does change people's lives. >> reporter: after this polo match they head to that blam black tie event we mentioned. it's back in los angeles to honor up and coming british actors and filmmakers. lester, back to you. >> kate snow, enjoy the match. thanks. when nbc nightly "nbc nightly news" continues on this saturday, a decorated and disabled vesht of iraq, the victim of a tragedy here at
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home. and the unfolding scandal at london. tonight the "nbc nightly news" of the world is history.
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29-year-old sergeant james hackamer came home in 2008, he had lost both of his legs in a roadside bomb attack. >> this is the moment for america. >> reporter: he had been working to rebuild his life as a son, husband, and father of two. his family was profiled by nbc's buffalo affiliate wgrz shortly after he was injured. >> he loved life. he really loved his family. >> reporter: following years of rehabilitation, he went friday to the darien lake amusement park about 30 miles outside buffalo with friends and family. he wanted to try the ride of steel and climbed into the front seat. the roller coaster reaches a height of 208 feet and speeds topping 70 miles per hour. after coming off one of the steep, sharp hills, he was apparently thrown from the ride, plunging to his death. >> as far as we can tell right now, there was nothing as far as mechanical-wise or anything with the ride that would have caused this accident. >> reporter: according to his mother, he had recently returned
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from walter reed with a new set of prosthetic legs. she added he was assisted on to the ride and was doing what he wanted to do. >> we are currently investigating the situation with our safety experts and local authorities. meanwhile, the attraction in the surrounding area is closed pending the investigation. >> reporter: and late today the amusement park released a further statement saying "we are all brokenhearted by this tragic accident and will continue our support of both the family and the investigation." his aunt said it was tragic he had survived the war in iraq only to die in an amusement park. kevin tibbles, nbc news, new york. when we come back, the end of a tabloid. we all have internal plumbing. but for some of us with overactive bladder, our pipes just don't work as well as they should. sometimes, i worry my pipes might leak. but i learned there's something more i can do. now, i take care with vesicare.
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today at yankee stadium -- >> double shot. deep to left field. looking up. see ya. 3,000. history with an exclamation point. oh, what a way to join the 3,000 hit club. der derek jeter has done it in grand style. >> derek jeetder became the 38th major league player to get 3,000 hits. the fan who wound up with the ball gave it back to the yankee so that jeter could keep it as a momento. more damage control in london tonight in the hacking scandal that put rupert
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murdock's "news of the world" out of business. we'll get the latest from nbc's kier simmons. >> reporter: after the final edition of the "news of the world" off the presses the paper showed off its front page. its headlines "thank you and good-bye." the 168-year-old tabloid that thrived on scandal, shamed celebrities and brought down politicians was brought down by a scandal of its own making involving allegations of bribery and voice mail hacking that one paper has dubbed britain's watergate. three people have been arrested so far, including the paper's former editor who was once a key aide to british prime minister david cameron. tonight he is out on bail. >> it's a very sad day for the "news of the world." >> reporter: this weekend the paper's owner, the media titan rupert murdock whose holdings include the fox television network and the "wall street journal" arrived in london to deal with the crisis personally.
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the paper is being investigated for paying police and hacking  into people's private cell phone messages. among the alleged victims the families of fallen soldiers and victims of the 2005 london terror attack and they are accused of deleting messages from the anguished parents of a murdered 13-year-old girl. but speaking to staff this week, an executive at the paper suggested there would be more revelations of criminal activity. "i think in a year's time every single one of you in this room might come up and say, okay, well, i see what you saw now." >> reporter: tomorrow's front page is a celebration of its successful stories, but in the end the newspaper became the story and started a scandal that may change the nature of british tabloid journalism. kier simmons, nbc news, london. and up next here tonight america's long love affair with british royalty.
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side effects include nausea, dry mouth, and constipation. [ male announcer ] ask your doctor about cymbalta. imagine you, with less pain. cymbalta can help. go to to learn about a free trial offer. for a country that only a few days ago celebrated the anniversary of its sound rejection of the british crown, it now seems we can't get enough of the royals. though celebrities in los angeles lining up tonight for face time with the duke and duchess of cambridge are in good company. as peter alexander reminds us, rolling out the royal red carpet has actually evolved into a time-honored american tradition.
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>> reporter: any hard feelings left over from the american revolution have clearly dissipated in 235 years. the arrival this weekend of a charming young prince and his striking new bride has rekindled our love affair with british royalty. from king george and the queen mother and charles and lady di, they've all crossed the pond to introduce themselves in person. like that first white house trip for william's parents in 1985. nothing says welcome to america like a dance with travolta. later we were along for the ride on the royal's first trip to disney. the first reigning monarchs ever to step on american soil, william's great grandparents back in 1939 with europe on the brink of war. queen elizabeth first arrived just in time for the u.s. bicentennial in 1976. she spoke about the special link between our two countries. >> your declaration of independence broke that link, but it did not for long break our friendship. >> reporter: you've heard of the
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king's speech, but the queen's comments in 1991 may be equally hard to forget. >> thank you for your warm welcome to washington. >> reporter: the talking hat speech they called it. i'll leave it to you to figure out why. she had a sense of humor about it too. >> i do hope you can see me today from where you are. >> reporter: her inaugural trip to the ballgame that year parodied in "the naked gun." why are americans so fascinated by your royalty? >> americans are fascinated by royalty because they're untouchable, they're exclusive, and whenever they come to america, they sprinkle fairy dust with them. >> reporter: our affection for the royals is no sdret. who else but a prince and princess could draw thousands of american fans for an afternoon of polo, the sport of kings. it's kate's first ever trip to the sugs. of course, with her husband in tow. if the reception their family has received here is any indication, don't be surprise iffed they're back again soon. peter alexander, nbc news, santa barbara, california.
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that's n"nbc nightly news" for this saturday. i'll see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac --

NBC Nightly News
NBC July 9, 2011 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT

News/Business. The latest world and national news. New. (HD) (CC)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Betty Ford 7, U.s. 6, America 6, London 5, Nbc 5, Iraq 4, Los Angeles 4, California 4, Yemen 4, Panetta 4, Michigan 3, Afghanistan 3, South Sudan 2, Sudan 2, Gellin 2, Peter Alexander 2, Rupert Murdock 2, Laura 2, Kabul 2, Nbc News 2
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